Norma Kelley was champion for kids

Sandra ClarkNorth Knoxville, Obits

A celebration of life will be held today (08/01/22) at 4 p.m. at Emerald Avenue United Methodist Church for well-known and much-respected educator and community leader Norma Kelley. She died on July 29, 2022. Her full obituary is here.

Mrs. Kelley and her husband, Dr. Paul Kelley, were members of Emerald Avenue UMC and were there for the founding of Emerald Youth Foundation. Paul Kelley was a former teacher at Fulton High School and later served on the Knox County Board of Education. He advocated for kids who received long-term suspensions and was instrumental in establishing alternative schools for both high and middle schools.

Norma Kelley lived in the Oakwood-Lincoln Park neighborhood for her entire life of 88 years. She worked as a teacher and librarian from 1961-1993 and held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee. At the church, Norma was a youth leader and member of the choir.

In the community, Norma sang with the Knoxville Choral Society and was involved with the American Association of University Women, Leadership Knoxville (1990), United Methodist Women and Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional society for women educators.

Her friend Jim Whedbee, retired Methodist minister, posted on his blog: As the country music song goes, “you can’t make old friends.” There’s just something about them that enriches my life. …

Most of those old friends are from my church at Emerald Avenue Methodist Church, and many of them taught me and many of my other old friends about God by what they said and did. Paul and Norma Kelley, and my sister and brother-in-law, were instrumental in helping Steve Diggs and Bob Bean and others get what is now Emerald Youth Foundation up and running. And it’s running so fast that no one can keep up with it, but it is doing what many of my old friends did for me: teaching by word and deed the love and grace of God! They didn’t scare me into the Kingdom; they gently and kindly loved me into it. …

For Norma and Paul, their story has been written. If someone would write it down, it would surely be a best seller. We are all still writing our stories. I hope and pray that “love and grace” will be the keywords in our stories.

Well said, Pastor Jim.

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